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Hello, and welcome back to Silver Linings.
This console generation has had plenty of problems that go way beyond a lack of great current sports games. One of the biggest problems this generation is the overmonetization of games. These days, the big publishers seem like they can't just make and release a game anymore, not without including too much DLC which ends up costing more than the base game, micro-transactions that belong in free-to-play games, and loot boxes that actively prey on gambling addicts (as revealed in this expose by Jim Sterling). First- and third-person shooters are a couple of genres that suffered greatly due to this.
Fortunately, even on the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Switch, there are great shooters to play that don't constantly nag players for more money. Most of them are older games; there are even some from last gen that can be played on Xbox One thanks to backwards compatibility or Playstation 4 through PS Now (when available). These twenty-four blast-a-thons are the perfect relief from the capitalistic bullcrap plaguing the modern era.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm writing this less than a week after the mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. It may seem tasteless writing this now since Republicans have tried to reopen the "Do Violent Video Games Create Violent People?" debate. I won't go into that right now, but, suffice to say, I firmly believe that shooter video games have as much chance of causing violence as cooking shows have of causing obesity.
Now that I got that unpleasantness out of the way, on to the list.
'Aliens Vs. Predator'
For those disgusted by Aliens: Colonial Marines, here's a very good alternative. The three campaigns for the xenomorph, Predator, and Marine are fully fleshed-out, and the balanced abilities make the multiplayer interesting. This game is certainly better than the AVP films.
'Battlefield: Bad Company 2'
Bad Company 2 is the most interesting of the Battlefield games. The team of mercenaries in the campaign have plenty of personality, keeping them from just being nameless targets. The mix of vehicles, multiple roles, a huge arsenal, and destructible environments makes skirmishes intense. There was even a great expansion that takes the fight to Vietnam.
'BioShock - The Collection'
The BioShock trilogy was one of the best things to come out of the last generation, and all three games got remastered for current consoles. Each game provides memorable stories that tackle tough subject matter like genetic manipulation and race relations, worlds that are simply breathtaking to explore, and action that mixes multiple weapons with (for lack of a better word) magic powers.
'Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition'
This one is insane! You're actively encouraged to find creative ways to dispatch your foes with the environment as much as your weapons. One minute, you're kicking a thug into a fan blade; the next, you're taking a precise shot to drop an elevator on a whole squad. The story is ludicrous, but the action more than makes up for it.
Based on an obscure comic series, this is a good one for Halloween. A hitman gets demon powers and goes out for revenge. The atmosphere is excellent for an early Xbox 360 release, and the battles are more intense with the use of the demon tentacles. The sequel's okay, too, but the first is better.
Now, THIS is how you stage a comeback! Abandoning the atmospheric horror of Doom 3, the 2016 reboot goes back to what the series does best, blasting hell-spawned demons. The in-your-face finishers are a blast to use, and the ability to build your own levels is something I've missed since Timesplitters: Future Perfect.
'Duke Nukem 3D - 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour'
Forget Forever, and enjoy the Duke in his prime. While lacking the multiplayer of the version on the Xbox 360, this one does have five campaigns to blast through with Duke's signature style, all looking cleaner than ever thanks to higher-resolution sprites. I still get a kick out of flying a jetpack and raining missiles on aliens. Hail to the king, baby!
'Far Cry 3'
This tropical-flavored "Skyrim with guns" is still the best edition in the Far Cry franchise. You actually have two options to play this on Xbox One: you can either play the remaster with the gorgeously juiced-up visuals, or you can play the 360 version which includes co-op missions and multiplayer, complete with splitscreen. Either way, the battle with Vaas deserves your time.
For those who miss the Condemned games, this little-known release can scratch that itch. The rundown areas have great atmosphere, and the stealth mechanics make each level incredibly tense. Exploration is also highly rewarded like the classics of the genre.
'Halo - The Master Chief Collection'
While Halo 5 regrettably succumbed to the temptation of loot boxes and micro-transactions, this package, which combines everything up to Halo 4, provides almost too much playtime for the money. Each game has plenty of memorable set-pieces which can be enjoyed solo or co-op, and the multiplayer is still the gold standard for providing variety and fun. Reach is coming to the collection soon, making it the perfect Halo package.
'Left 4 Dead 2'
This is one of the best co-op games games to release in the last ten years. The B-movie vibe gives the game tons of personality, and the wide variety of zombies with random attack patterns keep the battles from getting predictable, no matter how many times you play an episode.
This duo of shooters built a world perfectly. The Russian subways post-apocalypse have peerless atmosphere, and the rather ramshackle weapons and technology make sense in the world. Dread is everywhere, whether from the mutants on the irradiated surface or the Nazis controlling the stations.
'The Orange Box'
Half-Life 2 and Portal. 'Nuff said.
Let's face it; GoldenEye on Nintendo 64 will never get a proper remaster. However, Perfect Dark did, and that's good enough. The missions are good and varied, and the multiplayer still has the insane number of options of the original release. The improved visuals, frame rate and controls are just the icing on the cake.
'Rainbow Six: Vegas'
Remember when Tom Clancy games were about tight stories and tactical combat rather than Ubisoft trying to leech money? Go back to that happy time with this gem. Whether directing your squad into a successful crossfire or just shooting at the slot machines just to watch them blow up, this is one of the best games with the Tom Clancy name on it.
Though all four of the proper Red Faction games are a blast, the first (which is part of the "PS2 Classics" line on PS4) is still my favorite. This is more Doom than Half-Life with a HEAVY emphasis on demolishing the environment. Why look for a key card for a door when you can just blow a hole in the wall?
While Duke Nukem Forever blew its chance at a comeback for Duke, 3D Realms' other FPS property Shadow Warrior returned in style. The mix of katana-slashing and insane shooting were the kind of high-energy fun Red Steel on Wii wished it was, and this comeback even retains the original's sophomoric sense of humor particularly with the collectible fortune cookies. (For the record, I haven't had a chance to play Shadow Warrior 2 yet.)
'Sniper Elite V2 Remastered'
While the original Sniper Elite on the PS2 and Xbox was a tense game about WWII snipers, the second game made the concept more visceral and memorable. While accounting for gravity and wind before firing can be tedious, patience is rewarded with the slow-mo cinematic killshots that never stop looking cool. The third and fourth games go to other fronts of the war and are worth playing, too.
'Spec Ops: The Line'
This game takes its inspiration from the same book that inspired the movie Apocalypse Now, and it also goes out of its way to show the ugliness of war. Anyone who thinks games glorify violence should be pointed toward this one. The white phosphorous scene can still chill any audience to the bone.
'Star Wars: Battlefront 2'
No, I'm not talking about EA's cash-whore version from 2017. I'm talking about the one LucasArts put out in 2005. While the online doesn't work anymore, the recreations of the battles from the original and prequel trilogies are awesome, and the game can still be played in splitscreen. Taking control of Luke, Vader, and other heroes is still one of the greatest rewards you can earn.
This is one of the most unique shooters I've ever seen. Imagine a game where time only moves when you move... besides Braid. While there can be a bit too much trial-and-error, there's an unbelievable thrill when you actually manage to shoot a bullet out of the air. PS4 owners can even play this in VR! (Hope you don't get sick.)
Titanfall 2 fixed everything that was wrong with the original. The multiplayer options were tripled without any of the season pass nonsense, and they even added a great story campaign. It's a shame that EA's boneheaded decision to release this during a busy season made this flop; it deserves another chance.
'Unreal Tournament 3'
For old-school gamers like me, competitive shooters don't get better than Unreal. The Xbox 360 release adds additional maps and modes that weren't in the PS3 version, and it even runs better than the PS3 version (especially on the Xbox One). Even the campaign (which is really just a series of matches against bots) keeps things varied enough to stay fun.
'Wolfenstein: The New Order'
For those upset at how badly Youngblood screwed up, go back to the beginning with this successful reboot of the landmark shooter franchise. While other games like Turning Point toyed with the "What If The Nazis Won?" idea, The New Order truly did the concept justice. BJ Blazkowicz couldn't have asked for a better return.
What do you think? Any other non-greedy shooters I missed? Let me know, and game on!